On 152nd birth anniversary of India’s freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi, experts say time to relive his message of non-violence, communal harmony
NEW DELHI (AA) – As the world observed the 152nd birth anniversary of India’s freedom icon Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi — on Saturday, experts and political commentators say his message of non-violence, social equality, and communal harmony remains relevant today.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Rajiv Bhatia, a former ambassador, said Gandhi’s life and thoughts have remained a yardstick to measure the progress of the nation.
“Gandhi Ji is very much the father of this nation and India remains committed to practice his teachings and also project them in the world around us,” he said.
Rajni Bakshi, who has authored the book Bapu Kuti: Journeys in Rediscovery of Gandhi, said Gandhian perspectives on social justice, economics, climate chaos are not only relevant but contain future for the whole world.
“Over the next few decades, either the global economic and political systems will undergo a creative transformation, a moral renewal, and a paradigm shift towards genuine sarvodaya (well-being of all),” she said.
In India, many experts also lament that while the world was seeking to follow the thoughts of Gandhi, of late, several groups in India have been openly eulogizing the killer of Gandhi.
Joshi, who is associated with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a think tank, however, said that despite challenges, Gandhi as the father of the nation will outlive the “fringe elements.”
“Only fringe elements in the ruling party though … Gandhi is an international icon; he and his message are much bigger than India. They can do what they want, but Gandhi will outlive them,” he said.
Bakshi said that eulogizing Gandhi’s killer is not “really new, but it has become more open and visible.”
Moral compass for Indian diplomacy
According to political experts, Gandhi has remained a moral compass for Indian diplomacy over the past 70 years, since independence.
Sanjay Pulipaka, a senior fellow at Delhi Policy Group, one of the oldest think tanks in India, said the values enunciated by Gandhi during the freedom struggle have guided India’s foreign policy.
He said Gandhi’s shadow is evident in India’s policy on decolonization, combating apartheid/racism, and South-South cooperative approaches.
“India has a robust menu of overseas development assistance projects. For instance, a glance at the projects that India implemented in Afghanistan indicates a focus on societal resilience and gender equality, principles dear to Mahatma Gandhi,” he added.
Former ambassador Bhatia said India’s approach towards international cooperation and peace ideas have come from Gandhi’s philosophy.
“I think this peaceful foreign policy, the question of an international order that is based on law and norms, the question that we must focus more on development rather than on violence or conflict, all comes from Mahatma Gandhi directly,” he said.